ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship): What happens when you put two tenacious lion cubs, fighting for territorial dominance, in the same cage! Well you’ll probably have Group B Prelim Round groupings of the 22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship starting in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) on Friday.
Pitted together in Group B are silver medalists of the 21st FIBA Asia Championship at Sana’A (Yemen) in 2010 Korea against their East Asian team archrivals Japan.
The more significant aspect to look for in this contest is the fact the Korea and Japan have as their core players who played in the 2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship at Nha Trang City (Vietnam) last year when Korea won the silver and Japan the bronze.
With China also in the same pairing of Groups for the Second Round, we might just witness all the medalists – some of the players having moved up – from Nha Trang playing together in the Second Round.
Korea will be led by their high school star Lee Jonghyun, who was a surprised inclusion in the Korean NT that played the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas (Venezuela). Korea didn’t do all that well at Caracas, but the experience Lee underwent in the company of the senior pros will come in handy for the Kyungbokgo HS youngster.
Japan will be led by the irresistible Yusei Sugiura whose tall demeanor brings a whiff of fresh air to an otherwise well known Japanese style of speed and skill. Hisao Sato’s presence as the coach ensures the continuity factor for Japan.
Syria have a coach in Macedonian Pance Milevski who is known for his sharp analysis of the game situation. Remains to be seen if the Syrian youngsters have it in them to execute their coach’s plans.
Singapore have made a return to the event after six years and will be keen to prove that their presence is not by chance.
Group A Preview
Group C Preview
Group D Preview